The female model featured in the Protein World ad called the backlash "very contradictory"

By Jacqueline Andriakos
April 27, 2015 01:00 PM
Courtesy Protein World

The phrase “beach body” continues to cause a stir among body image campaigners around the globe – this time in England.

British supplement company Protein World made headlines this week after its advertisements featuring a slender, bikini-clad model were vandalized in London.

The ad features a woman in a yellow bikini posing beside the slogan “Are you beach body ready?” to promote its meal replacement weight loss aids. But commuters defaced the advertisements in the London Underground by covering the tagline to make it read, “#Eachbodysready.”

Other critics began circulating photos of women posing in bikinis beside the billboards to illustrate that a beach body can be a woman of any shape and size. Organizers also scheduled an event Saturday in Hyde Park in London, called Taking Back the Beach, to protest the signage.

“This was never about suggesting that people shouldn’t try to get fit if they want to. But I’m so tired of it being an expectation,” the event creator wrote on the official Facebook page.

Critics also launched a Change.org campaign, which has already collected more than 46,000 signatures, in order to do away with the ad.

“Protein World is directly targeting individuals, aiming to make them feel physically inferior to the unrealistic body image of the bronzed model, in order to sell their product,” the petition creator wrote in the description.

But Protein World Chief Executive Arjun Seth is ignoring the controversy – at least for now.

Seth told Channel 4 News that the people complaining online and destroying the ads were a “minority” and “they’re terrorists, you can quote me on that.”

“We are a small British manufacturer. We don’t like backing down to a few people,” he told the news outlet Monday, also adding that if petition gathers 100,000 signatures, he would consider taking notice. As of now, he stated that the attention is actually helping business.

Protein World wrote on its Twitter, “This is not feminism, it is extremism. #getagrip #BeachBodyRead #Winning.”

Another individual to respond to the uproar? The model featured in the poster, Renee Somerfield.

The Australian model spoke to HuffPost UK Lifestyle on Saturday to say that the criticism feels “very contradictory.”

She told the publication, “I think nearly every ad campaign you have ever seen is open to interpretation. But saying the ad is body shaming by body shaming the image is very contradictory. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

She also explained in the interview that she works hard to look the way that she does and that she is a “real person.”

“Nourish your body, be kind to it and it will love you right back, no matter your size,” she told HuffPost.

A rep for Protein World did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

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